13 Replies Latest reply on Dec 2, 2009 10:30 AM by rtoney

    Hobbyist i7 build, comments please


      This is my first post on this forum and I apologise for its length but felt I should explain my choices.


      I found this forum and dvinfo.net in my research to build a new PC. This forum in particular has been of immense help. The expert knowledge, experience and opinions so generously given will, I hope, have saved me from making expensive and frustrating mistakes.


      I have read and re-read a number of the threads here and finally (I think) have put together my shopping list. I would very much appreciate if interested members could take a look and point out/suggest any flaws/alternatives before I place my orders.


      I'm an enthusiastic hobbyist and will use my new PC for photo-, audio-, SD video editing, DVD creation (family movies), family web site build and general PC stuff - so will not be video editing/encoding all the time. It will replace my present PC (an AMD 3500+, 3GB RAM, XP Pro that I built 5 yrs. ago) which is really struggling now. Photoshop & Premiere Elements 8 and Vegas MediaStudio 9 have proved it's no longer up to the job - 5 yrs. ago it was brill. Despite all the time and money invested, I'm sure that  in 5 yrs. time my new build will be no different.


      So having set the scene this is what I've come up with:-


      I don't want or feel that I need a RAID setup as I image backup my desktop data every day to my NAS and image backup my C drive weekly. I'm fully aware of the advantages of the appropriate RAID config but I've always been concerned about what happens when one of your matched drives dies and you can no longer get that model. I'm not seeking to build a dedicated editing machine to use for commercial purposes.


      I've never overclocked but with the kit I plan to get I intend to have a careful go using posts on here, particularly Harm's as a starter.


      I have chosen three different makes of HDD to spread my risk and carry out my own small reliability evaluation.


      The OS of my new system will be Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.


      My shopping list is:


      CPU                    Intel i7-920 - OEM version because I won't be using the stock cooler.
      MOBO                Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 - because it has sufficient SATA, eSATA and Firewire ports.
      RAM                   6GB (3x2GB) Corsair XMS3 DDR3, PC3-12800 (1600), CAS 8 (8-8-8-24), XMP (TR3X6G1600C8) - I'd like 12GB but I'm already over my original budget. If I decide to stretch to 12 (well it is nearly Christmas) how much of a risk I am   taking with them not actually being a guaranteed matched set (a 12GB matched set is considerably dearer - price has gone up £40 since yesterday)?  From experience I know it is best to get all the RAM you think you want in the first instance because trying to find matching RAM later is a pain and can be impossible. I can't see this RAM in the mobo's QVL so I'm hoping it'll be OK.


      RAM Cooler         I don't know if this is reqd. for 6/12 GB? For this amount aren't the heat spreaders on the RAM sufficient?
      PSU                     Corsair 750HX PSU - as advised by Harm, I've run my build through eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Pro 2.5 to find the power needs of this lot plus possible additions. The 750 still has amps for un-anticipated add ons.
      CPU Cooler          Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366 - seems it will do a nice job and the price is bearable - a bit concerned about case fit though.
      Thermal Paste     Artic Silver 5 - seems to be a favoured compound.
      Northbridge Fan  AKASA AK-VCX-01 40x40x10mm - not sure how I'm going to attach this to my mobo yet.
      GPU                     ATI HD5770 - I was going to get a 4890 but this looks a more suitable card re future.
      OS & Apps HDD   500 GB Western Digital WD5001AALS Caviar Black - this should be fast enough and has lots of space
      PF/Cache HDD    500 GB Western Digital WD5001AALS Caviar Black - as above.
      Genl Data HDD    500GB Samsung HD502HJ Spinpoint F3 - for anything that isn't video, photo or audio.
      Proj Files HDD     1TB Seagate ST31000528AS Barracuda 7200.12 - should be big enough and fast enough. Archive on NAS.
      Media HDD          1TB Seagate ST31000528AS Barracuda 7200.12 - as above.
      DVD-RW              Samsung SH-S223B/RSMN (Retail) - I chose this over a Sony Optiarc (OEM).
      2 SATA Caddies   Antec Easy SATA - to house my Project and Media HDDs so that when I'm not media editing I can unplug them to stop them wastefully spinning away creating heat, wearing out and using power.
      Case                    Coolermaster Storm Sniper All Black Mesh Edition (SGC-6000-KXN1-GP) - it was hell of a job finding the right case. This isn't perfect but ticks most of my boxes. It's an improvement on the original Sniper, is spacious, should have good airflow and has the external front ports I want (USB, eSATA & Firewire) (and a handy button to switch off the bling LEDs). The new Zalman MS1000-HS1 was a contender with its front hot-swap bays but it's so new there are no useful reviews on it and its predecessor has poor airflow reviews. The Antec P183 is very nice but with my caddies the door would be a nuisance and it doesn't have the Firewire port. Ditto the Firewire port missing from the Antec 900-2. Had it been the eSATA missing from the either I could have lived with it because the caddies have eSATA ports.


      Just to complete the picture, because my desktop capacity is to be increased I will add another drive as follows to one of my NAS devices to increase the archive/backup space.


      NAS HDD             ST3200542AS - 2TB Seagate ST32000542AS Barracuda LP
      I'll be using my existing mouse, keyboard and recently purchased monitor (Dell 2209WA 22").


      Sorry this has been so long but I thought it would answer some questions that might have be asked - on the other hand it could be so long people forget what the question was.


      Thanks (if you stayed with me)



        • 1. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
          Harm Millaard Level 7



          Thank you for a well written and complete overview of your intended system. I wish more people would take an example of this approach.


          As to the components you have chosen, you have done your homework. Congrats.


          A couple of remarks however:


          The Noctua cooler comes with a very good thermal paste so there is no need to get the Arctic Silver paste.


          Do you need the Northbridge fan? I have not needed one. What made you choose it?


          You can consider a Supermicro CSE-M35T drive cage, which offers 5 x 3.5" disk space in a single 3 x 5.25" cage including a cooling fan. The drives are hot swappable, so you can easily unplug certain drives if you want to.


          Hope these remarks help you decide.


          Again my compliments for a well written, well argumented and properly researched shopping list.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
            Jim_Simon Level 9
            and general PC stuff


            There's one mistake.  Don't replace the current PC, make the new one a second PC.  Use it for your creative work.  Use the old PC for Internet, email, office and gaming type activities.

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
              Jim_Simon Level 9

              Northbridge Fan  AKASA AK-VCX-01 40x40x10mm - not sure how I'm going to attach this to my mobo yet.


              Not necessary.  i7 boards no longer have a Northbridge.

              • 4. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
                Jim_Simon Level 9

                DVD-RW              Samsung SH-S223B/RSMN (Retail) - I chose this over a Sony Optiarc (OEM).


                I'd switch back.


                Samsung SH-S223

                "Although not exceptional, it is as good as most of the dvd drives that you can find"


                Optiarc AD7240S

                "DVD media were burned at speeds of up to 24X and the result was stunning."




                I use the 7200 myself, and combined with the use of Falcon Pro media, my burns have fewer errors than many of the Hollywood pressed disks I own.

                • 5. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
                  Jim_Simon Level 9

                  I'll be using my existing mouse, keyboard and recently purchased monitor (Dell 2209WA 22").


                  With a KVM switch, you can keep these along with the original computer, using the old one for general PC work and the new only for creative work.

                  • 6. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
                    rtoney Level 1

                    Thanks to you both for having the tenacity and time to give me feedback. Your suggestions were very useful as they caused me to revisit my planned workflow. My response is, I'm sorry, a little long winded but I want to show I've given your suggestions full consideration.




                    Thanks for the praise but I only followed the advice you and a few other stalwarts of this forum have already given to many others.

                    Thanks also for the comments re the compound and Northbridge cooler - that released a tenner to my 12GB RAM fund.


                    When I looked back at the many notes I'd taken from the many posts I've read I found the Nthbridge cooler had come from the first post in reply to a question on Tom's Hardware Forum (www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/page-260467_12_0.html) and was about another mobo. I've read that much about overheating that it has me quite concerned to cool it so I included it. If you've never had a problem that's good enough for me so I've dropped it.


                    I noticed your suggestion elsewhere about the Supermicro cage but didn't follow up then. I've had a look now and that bit of kit looks very good and I almost opted for it instead of the caddies. However, I've thought about the practicalities and have decided to stick with the caddies because:-


                    (a) if I could foresee at some point my needing 4 or 5 hot-swap drives for concurrent projects then I would definitely have gone for the Supermicro cage - but I can't. I'm only going to be concentrating on one project at a time so I can archive the previous one, clear the drives and when the next one comes along start afresh. My projects run serially, not in parallel.


                    (b) the case has a front eSATA port that I'll connect to one of the two eSATA connectors on the mobo - thus one of the eSATA ports on the mobo bracket will not have a supply (not a problem because I can't see a need for me to have two eSATA devices permanently plugged in to the back of the machine). This config will give me an eSATA port back and front providing the flexibility of a permant rear connection and temporary front connection should I need to 'do a quickie' in parallel. The caddies also provide eSATA ports giving me two more hot-swaps should the need arise.




                    Re general PC stuff: my plan was to replace my old PC with a new one and apply an updated worklflow config. I'd already considered keeping my current PC but I don't have the room space. However, your central point (which I know from posts is shared by Harm and others) of keeping the AV editing PC lean and clean is well made and on reflection I am able to do.


                    In my 'command module' where I have my boys toys I spin my chair to the right for my desktop and to the left for my iMac. I currently have WinXP Pro running in Boot Camp on my iMac, accessed through Parallels Dektop. In due course I'll be replacing XP with Win7. That is where I will concentrate all my non-AV activities, leaving my new build exclusively committed to AV.


                    No longer needing an HDD for general data is going to release another £38 for the RAM fund. More funds (£32) can also be released for the fund because there is no need for the caddies - the machine will only be on when AV work is being done. Nice one! I owe you both a drink.


                    Re northbridge: it's a 920 on an X58 (Bloomfield) mobo I'm getting, Jim, not an 860/870 on a P55 (Lynnfield).


                    Re DVD-RW: My iMac I has a Optiarc AD-5630A which is why I thought I'd have a different make in my new build. Thus giving me flexibility/options.


                    Re: KVM switch: Yes I'm familiar with these but your earlier suggestion lead to this being unneccesary.



                    I'd appreciate either of you, or anyone else, commenting on the risk/merits of buying:-


                    2 x 6GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 PC3-12800 (1600), CAS 8 kits, or

                    1 x 12GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 12800 (1600) CAS kit.


                    At the moment the 2 x 6GB is £254 and 1 x 12GB is £304 from the same supplier. So it's a £50 premium for the matched set. It must be the safest buy but is removing the risk worth the extra £50?


                    Many thanks again,



                    • 7. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
                      Chuck A. McIntyre Level 3

                      I would go with a WD Raptor 150 system "C" drive and two other internal drives, Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB. I prefer the Cooler Master Full Tower cases because they are less cramped to work inside the case. I think you should consider the Corsair 1000 Watt power supply. Later, even as a hobbyist, you may want to go for one of the GPU's supported by Adobe's upcoming "Mercury" product. With the SUPERMICRO CSE-M35T-1B Black 5 Bay Hot-Swapable SATA HDD Enclosure, you can easily add two more drives when needed. I would spend the money on 12GB of Ram. Check out the Fry's and Newegg.com prices if they are available in your area. They often have very good prices on Ram.

                      • 8. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
                        Harm Millaard Level 7



                        The number of suppliers that offer hex-kits is very, very limited, so effectively you nearly always have to use two tri-kits for 12 GB. As long as you use one tri-kit for one bank and the other tri-kit for the next bank, you will not have problems and with the price difference I would definitely opt for two tri-kits. The Corsair Dominator is very good, but this may be an alternative: the OCZ Platinum XTC OCZ3P1600LV12GS, which is a hex-kit with 7-7-7-24 timings and including 19% VAT goes for around € 380 over here.

                        • 9. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
                          rtoney Level 1

                          Such fast responses. It's great being retired.




                          Re HDDs: I've taken a look at the cost comparison of what you suggest against my proposal. I initially considered a Velociraptor 150 but it is 3 times the cost of the drive I proposed (does this say something about the difference). Applying your suggestion for the 3 drives costs an additional £50 which isn't too bad but I need to think about the benefit of a faster C drive (will it make a noticeable difference) against less storage capacity (although I suppose you need to be working on 1hr+ videos to feel the loss).


                          I understand from other posts that it's best to go for a 640 or 1000 drive because of platter numbers. Have you suggested the 640 to balance the additional cost for the Raptor or for other reason?


                          Re case: I thought the same but when you look at the dimensions instead of the description:

                          - the Coolermaster HAF 932 (full) measures (W)230 x (H)545 x (D)575 mm or (W)9.0" x (H)21.5 x (D)22.7"

                          - the Sniper (midi) measures (W)254.6 x (H)551 mm X (D)566.6 or (W)10" x (H)21.7" (D)22.3"  (www.cmstorm.com/en/products/chassis/sniperblackmesh/)


                          So the Sniper is in fact bigger in 2 dimensions and smaller by only a centimeter (or less than half inch) in the depth.


                          Re upgrading: I tend to think that when the time comes to upgrade (as against addon) your PC it's better to start again and get all components of the equivalent technology level. I understand your point about more drives - no matter how big they get we always seem to fill them up (it's the same with cupboards). With the eSATA ports I'll have I can always plug in more storage and I already have two eSATA enclosures with HDDs. I've checked my PSU requirements and have spare capacity (plus I've now dropped the general data HDD) so I can always get the SuperMicro cage if I subsequently find my editing skills are called into greater service by family and friends.


                          Re suppliers: We don't have a Fry's or Newegg in the UK. You Yanks are lucky in that respect. I live in rip-off Britain. It seems everything costs more here. Now look what you've done - turned me into a grumpy old git.


                          Thanks for your response.




                          Thanks again for the info. I feel relaxed about going for the 2 x 6GB kits now.


                          It was my intention to buy everything from the same supplier, particularly mobo related components, in the event of a problem arising with compatibility or fit. That supplier (very well known to the UK PC community) doesn't stock OCZ. I found 4 suppliers that do the type you suggest but all four have no stock at the moment. It's also clear from there old prices that RAM prices are considerably on the up. I'll take another look before I place my order for everything.





                          • 10. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
                            Jim_Simon Level 9
                            I need to think about the benefit of a faster C drive (will it make a noticeable difference) against less storage capacity


                            You should have only Windows and Programs on C:.  Nothing else.  The reduced storage capacity should therefore not enter into the buying decision, as ideally it will not be missed.  My own C: drive is only 75 GB, and I have plenty of room left over.


                            Make your decision based solely on speed and price.

                            • 11. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
                              Harm Millaard Level 7



                              To set your mind to rest about the WD Caviar Black versus the Velociraptor, my inital reaction was also to get the Velociraptor but looking at around triple the price and half the cache it did not seem worth the extra investment. Sure there is space left waste, but what does it matter for that attractive prive. You probably will not notice a performance difference but will have less heat.


                              The UK often has extravagant prices in comparison to other European countries. It may be worth looking for certain components in either the Netherlands or Germany.

                              • 12. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
                                rtoney Level 1



                                I meant the loss of data storage. I have for years advised others of the need to only have OS and apps on the C drive both from keeping it minimal and avoiding the loss of data in the need to do a reformat/reinstall/restore (its a hell of a job convincing people to backup their data let alone their system).


                                On my present PC I have a 34GB C drive on which Revo Uninstaller says I have 207 installations and 6GB spare, so a 150GB will certainly have spare capacity even if I had all the same installations, which of course I won't have now, e.g. no Ms Office.


                                I didn't know if you had another reason beside cost for suggesting the 640 over the 1000.


                                Thanks anyway.





                                You made the same observation re Raptor v bigger cache drive in another post and I had this in mind when I made my selection. I've now done a price comparison of various builds taking the some of the suggestions kindly given.


                                Original list:                                             £1,362

                                Original minus 500GB HDD & caddies:      £1,281

                                HDDs changed to Raptor & 640s:              £1,332

                                Raptor + 2x640 + 12GB RAM:                  £1,458

                                Raptor + 2x1TB + 12GB RAM:                  £1,481

                                500GB + 2x1TB + 12GB RAM:                  £1,408


                                So my options are the last three.


                                One thing I forgot about

                                • 13. Re: Hobbyist i7 build, comments please
                                  rtoney Level 1



                                  Sorry, I didn't mean to not respond to your last point but something went amiss at my end.


                                  I prefer to order 'in country' in the event of having a problem. It's easier to discuss it and cheaper to return something. I know we are supposed to be one community now but there are practicalities that cannot be easily overcome.


                                  If I may go 'off topic' briefly. I see that you are in Rotterdam. That brings back memories of a very pleasant Easter weekend 1967 spent there when I was stationed in Germany near to Venlo and Roermond. A few of us spent the weekend in a large camping site not that far from the centre where we had a good walk around. We went up the Euromast of course and to see The Sound of Music in a large cinema. I still have the ticket stubs and photos. A very nice place.


                                  Back on  topic, I was also going to say that what I forgot is having one or more a virtual PCs. They are very useful as a sandbox in which to test new software and do other things without messing up your host system. I normally keep mine on a my general data drive but it can be kept anywhere. This would give access to the power of my new build to use for non-VA if needed. Does anyone see a problem with this?